Happy Daughter’s Day!

18719307319_f328a5ff7a_o

What’s an apple got to do with anything, much less Father’s Day?  It has everything to do with it.  And I do mean every thing.

God wrote this post on the tablet of my heart back in April, right about where I left off on the blog.  But I saved it for June.  I’ll cover May later, so in the meantime, can you walk backwards with me to April and beyond?  We won’t trip, I promise, as long as we’re both holding onto each other—and to Him.

I just recently shared with a group of ladies about my first Women’s Bible study I attended at my church over a decade ago.  I was a newlywed, married to the sweetest man on Earth (and the first kid I met when I moved to my hometown the summer after fifth grade).

I was clinging to the end of my 20’s, had been a Christian since the age of seven, but I was still broken.  By the end of the study, my leader gave me a porcelain apple that God told her to give to me, along with His words—that I was the apple of my Father’s eyes.

She had no way of knowing that I’d come from a broken home and still carried issues because of it.  But He did.  And yet—He called me daughter.  It’s just a small slice of what all God has done, but He used His Word and His women to be a healing place for a hurting girl.

We’ve been planted in that House ever since, over in neighboring Baton Rouge. But it’s growing about as fast as my girls outgrow shoes, so we’re planting a campus in our hometown of Denham Springs.

Fast forward to Easter weekend, when our church held its first service here at a local park.  A park that was this former Miss Denham Springs’ prior stomping ground and playground. My childhood home was to the left and across from the park, and the trailer we had to move to at the end of my senior year was just to the right of the park.

So on Easter Eve, early on Saturday morning before I went there to pray, I drove by both, with Jesus riding along.

And over twenty years later, I drove down Eden Church Road, turned onto Eve Street, passed up Genesis Street and Garden Street, and then stared at my old street sign.  I’d never thought about the name, yet there it was.  Apple Street. And that first Women’s Bible study came flooding back.

What a picture of God placing His church and His cross smack dab in the middle of our difficulties, and surrounding us with a Father’s unfailing love. 

And talk about timing. Just that week I’d been asked to lead the future Women’s Ministry.  So sitting there at the intersection of the past and the present, I could hear my stammering words flung up to God, “Are you suuure? I mean, if I were you, I’d pick the flawless, shiny one, without all the bruises and the mealy parts.  You know, the perfect one.”

But I knew the rebuttal.   He already picked The Perfect One, and when we trust in the tree of the cross, we don’t have to be.

“OK.  I get it.  Finally.  But what do I say?  What do I tell them, the women you lead me to lead?”

Then I looked up to Him and to the “sign” that He gave, and pictured the smile of a Father, and heard the soft whisper to my own apple cheeks, “You tell them everything.  Everything I’ve been to you.  Everything I am to you.  You just tell them about me.  Everything I am.  And Who I AM to them: a Father.  And who they are to me: daughters—who ARE EVERYTHING to me.”

So what’s an apple have to do with Father’s Day?  Absolutely EVERYTHING!

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 17:8. 

Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Matt. 9:22 

And how I love being with fellow daughters and women—at the well.

For more Father’s Day/Daughter’s Day reading, check out last year’s post here: http://christiehughesatthewell.com/2014/06/16/hes-your-daddy/

I wrote it then, but I finally get it now. Happy Daughter’s Day!

Thank you for joining me here.  It would sure bless me if you’d subscribe to my blog, and I hope to bless you right back with a GIFT–a free printable. (Just scroll to the bottom or hop over to the sidebar to subscribe.  The free printable for a Sonshine Box will be in the confirmation email.)

READ THE INSPIRATION FOR THE SUNSHINE BOX HERE:

http://christiehughesatthewell.com/2014/08/

How to Make a Sonshine Box

How to Make a Sonshine Box

God never forgets a promise

He engraves & doesn't forget

He engraves & doesn’t forget

Ever felt forgotten?  Chances are, you have and you haven’t forgotten it. Think back to being a kid.  Sitting on the cement step in front of the school, counting the cracks and the minutes. Elbows propped on knees, hands hugging flushed cheeks, and hound-dog eyes sagging to the ground.  Felt like an eternity didn’t it? Until you heard the rumbling sound of the station wagon engine chugging along, and then those crunching wheels finally smacked the curb.

I had a punctual parent, but it only takes one time to always remember feeling forgotten.  I re-lived that scene weeks back.  Only I was a big 38-year-old kid this time, and I thought God was the forgetful parent.

I’ve been sitting here waiting on a God-size promise with a girl-size problem. I don’t like to wait.  It’s hard to be patient when you’re still hurting. But right here in this little writing spot, He gave me a verse in my head for another post.  I slid on past it, until I heard it again.  And then again.

“See, I have engraved you in the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16. The God who made me knows that when I really want to remember something, I write it on my hand. Always have. But I use ink that smears, while He permanently engraves.

After the same verse came across 3 times from 3 different places, I gave an upwards nod, for a second.  I asked my husband, “You think maybe God’s talking to me?”  His reply, soaked with love and drenched with sarcasm, “Ya think?”

I placed the thought on a shelf and forgot all about it.  Until I came face-to-face with it two days later. I darted into my women’s bible study, scanned the room for my usual chair, and then reluctantly settled into one across the room from it. A lovely lady had taken my spot.

I didn’t like it.  Not a bit.  I like the usual.  The planned. The comfort zone.  Come on, I can’t be the only one.  You know what I’m saying.  “Lord, don’t mess with me–or my chair. Not today.”

My fellow leader even remarked, “We’re changing it up this week, huh?” I smiled, but I had itching hands and ants in my pants. I was ready to scramble across the room as soon as a spot opened up, but prayer time came a second too soon, and it was time to humbly bow and pray.

I was on bended knee, but truth be told, I was still holding onto the humble part.  I uttered a short and simple prayer, “Lord, you’re a promise keeper,” and I kept it at that. Just in case He needed some reminding.

Then straight from the mouth of a precious woman, but straight down from the throne of grace, I heard her say, “And Lord, you never go back on your promises.”  I unclenched teeth and hands, and handed over my humility in that moment.  Right before the floodgates of forgotten opened up, and the silent, warm tears flooded down.

We Amen’d, I stood up, and turned around to face the wall I’d had my back to all along, and then I looked up. There it was. I came eye-to-eye and hand-to-hand with Him.  Again.  You’d have to see it to believe it.  Yet sometimes He asks us to believe it before we see it.

He never forgets you

He never forgets you

I had to take a camera shot, just so I wouldn’t forget.  A child’s picture page, with the hands of Jesus filled up with the names of His kids. Not one forgotten. I’d been sitting in that room for months, and hadn’t seen it once.  From across the room, I couldn’t see the picture, much less hear His words. Girlfriends, He saves us a seat, and He never forgets His promises.

If you’re still waiting on His hand, know that the hand you’re waiting on, has your name all over it–engraved with HIS handwriting.   And that’s a promise you can keep.  Now don’t you forget it.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. Malachi 4:2

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

How to pack light for a heavy trip

CLOUDS

I love to travel, but I hate to pack.  We just returned from a week-long getaway, and I bet I crammed three weeks of stuff into a week’s worth of play. I never pack light.  It’s just not me. But the problem with packing is that what you pack, you have to carry.

So as we’re traveling around, we’re also lugging around way more than we need. And far more than I should be carrying.  Especially with these pesky herniated disks I’ve got.  The uninvited stowaways that slow me down, even without my bags. That leave me fed up and worn down at home and away.

This week after huffing and puffing from the unseasonable cold of Louisiana, I sat down on one of God’s red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.  Surrounded by the golden glow and rustic warmth, I still carried a chill inside.  In the midst of physical pain, whirling thoughts of the “what if’s” crept in to steal a breathtaking view.

What if this is it? What if the healing never comes?  What if the prayer goes unanswered?  What if I heard Him wrong and I didn’t get it right?  What if He changed His mind?

And then I slowly unpacked a well-placed, God-given, feather-light message.  Sitting on a rock that hasn’t moved.  And yet even more, we stand on the immovable Rock of Jesus, who’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He stands the test of time in the middle of our own time of testing. He doesn’t change His mind.  He still heals.  We still hear, and He still draws near.

I pictured a life lived lighter.  Without all of those stowaways.  And while I’m waiting on His healing hand, maybe He’s waiting on my white-knuckled hands to move as well.  To relinquish a few things.  To let go of past mistakes, to unzip regrets, unfold disbelief and then hurl them over the edge.  Standing tall and peering over to watch them fall splat before pulling out the light layers of obedience stashed way at the bottom. They look too heavy and hard, but they go on light and easy.

With empty hands poised and ready for a heap of blessings, I look up.  To clouds of white fluff kissing a sky of serene blue.  My mind floats back to those God has used to spur me on in my faith. To grandparents’ prayers.  Back to when God lit a flame that has yet to dim.  And when He sent me straight to the well of His Word for a life-long friend.  Back to when cancer took her body, and Jesus took her home.

With head in the clouds, I think about the heavenly welcome party for my mom nearly a blink ago. How they all went home empty-handed, but with spirits filled to the rim with love and faith. That’s how I want to live here. Letting go of life’s luggage.  With grateful hands held high.

We can have assurance here that although we run and sometimes stumble in our faith for an audience of One, we are rallied on by an audience of many.  Are you carrying baggage that slows you down?  Are you like me, heavy-laden waiting years for an answered prayer?  Take heart, rest on the Rock, and move in close to the hand of grace.  And then Shhhh….listen.  Can you almost hear them? The roar of the clapping crowds?  Look high and listen up.  That’s your cloud of witnesses cheering you on!

If you know someone who needs this reminder, SHARE with the one you love!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt. 11:28-30

 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Cor. 1:20

 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8

Still in Need of Training Wheels

11867370124_6b83ae685a

“Thank God for training wheels!”  That was my recent exclamation when my little speed racer took her first topple on wheels.  Her confidence and pride are reluctantly recovering now.   She’s skittish of turns and her hope is more hesitant.  But it’s still there.

What she’d really like is for me to walk alongside her, hold onto her handlebars, and never let go.  Truth is, today on her 5th birthday and every day after, I’d kind of like to do that as well.  Then I’m reminded that I can’t ride it for her.

But I sure can relate.  Most days I’d like for God to ride this life out for me, too. Yet He allows me to do the heavy peddling, while He guides and steers the way.  When I let Him.

All the while our sweet Heavenly Father keeps His hand securely on us. Even on days when it seems as though He might’ve taken it from us, we can trust that it’s just to show us how to use the strength He’s given us.  To put faith to peddle and muscle to might.  Here is where we regain our confidence and our grin, all the while trusting in Him.

Besides His hand and His presence, I’m also learning to lean on what I overlooked before.  The training wheels. Steady and true.

Much like my daughter, I didn’t pay them much mind. They’re hard to see and easy to miss with eyes locked on shiny new paint and sparkling streamers flowing from  handlebars just calling your name.  And when she took that hot-pink wonder for a spin, she was too busy looking up, mindless of what steadied her.

Isn’t that what we do as well?  When we’re riding high, full speed ahead, we pay little mind to what steadies us. Until we’re halted. Until we fall.

I think God uses ‘training wheels’ to coax us back up and get us back going.   As I fly through life,  caught up in the sparkles or down in the dumps, I want an awareness of the sturdy support He provides through those that uphold me.  The friends. The family.  The ones that encourage and assure me, when I’d surely topple on my own.

With texts and calls saying simply, “Just thinking of you. Keep going, don’t give up.” And the prayers that I didn’t even ask for.  That I’ll never even know about. Until I need them.  When I almost fall, but don’t.

Pulling over to the side now for a thankful pause.   Lord, help me to see those that fade into the background to help push me forward in my faith.  Bless them right back.

And If you’ve put motion to my wheels and helped me with your prayers, check your phone.  That’s me texting you.  Just to say thank you (TY in texting terms).  From the top of my head, through the bottom of my heart, and down to my peddling toes, thank you.